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How To Sponsor An Immigrant Friend To The US

If you are an immigrant to the United States and have a friend from another country who would also like to migrate, there is a great deal you can do to support them. From an immigration standpoint, the type of support which can be provided by family members living in the US differs from that which can be provided by non-family migrants. In this article, we will explain how you can sponsor an immigrant friend to come to the United States to live.

Financial Support Rather Than A Petition

Whereas US nationals and permanent residents can file petitions to assist family members in coming to the US, this is not possible for non-family members. It is possible, however, for non-family members to provide financial support. By providing financial support to a prospective migrant, you can significantly increase the chances of them receiving a positive decision on their application. In large part, this is because the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will be assured that the migrant will not need to rely on already stretched public funds. The application to provide financial support to prospective migrant specifically states the purpose of the affidavit is to confirm that migrants “have adequate means of financial support and are not likely to become a public charge”. The ‘Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds’ ruling was implemented by the USCIS in 2020 to ensure that where a new migrant is classified as likely or liable to become a Public Charge, their immigration application may be refused.

Form I-864 Affidavit Of Support – Understanding Your Obligations

US citizens and permanent residents who wish to formally provide financial support to friends or other prospective migrants who are not family members are required to complete Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). According to the USCIS, form I-864 is a “contract between a sponsor and the US Government. Completing and signing Form I-864 makes you the sponsor. You must show on this affidavit that you have enough income and/or assets to maintain the intending immigrants and the rest of your household at 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. By signing Form I-864, you are agreeing to use your resources to support the intending immigrants named in this affidavit, if it becomes necessary”. As such, entering into such an agreement should not be taken likely, and it does mean that as a person providing financial backing for a migrant, you will be financially responsible. Indeed, the USCIS confirm that if the migrant does go on to claim public funds and/or means tested benefits, you will be required to refund those costs. It also means that those funds are not repaid to the relevant agency, you can be sued.

What Is Meant By Federal Poverty Guidelines?

The Federal Poverty Guidelines define how much you need to prove you have in the way of assets and/or income to be able to support a migrant to the US. The amount is based on the number of people in your household. For all US states, with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii, you will need to provide evidence that you have an income or assets of:

Two person household: $21,550

Three person household: $27,150

Four person household: $32,750

Five person household: $38,350

Six person household: $43,950

Seven person household: $49,550

Eight person household: $55,150

If your household has more than eight people, you will need to add $5,600 for each additional person.

When completing form I-864, you will need to enter your current individual annual income. The guidance accompanying the form states that you do not need to prove you have sufficient income, but you can if you wish if you believe this will help establish your ability to provide financial support; “You may include evidence supporting your claim about your expected income for the current year if you believe that submitting this evidence will help you establish the ability to maintain sufficient income. You are not required to submit this evidence, however, unless specifically instructed to do so by a US Government official. For example, you may include a recent letter from your employer, showing your employer’s address and telephone number and indicating your annual salary. You may also provide pay stubs showing your income for the previous six months. If your claimed income includes alimony, child support, dividend or interest income, or income from any other source, you may also include evidence of that income”.

Completing Form I-864

Before completing and submitting form I-864, we recommend gathering all of the information you will need first. Make sure you have the full name, address, and contact details of the person you wish to provide financial support for. You will also need the full names of their family members and their relationship with the main applicant. In addition to your employment and income details, if any other members of your household will be contributing to providing support, you will need to add their income details. You will also need to add the details of any previous I-864 financial sponsorships you have provided.

Your friend will need to provide an original of the I-864 with their application, including evidence of your income. For each application for a family member, they should include a photocopy of the I-864, but no evidence of income needs to be provided.

Final Words

Helping a friend to come to the US is a generous undertaking and one from which they and their family members will benefit for the remainder of their lives. By taking on the role of financial sponsor, you are legally responsible if they do seek public funds and benefits. However, if you understand the implications of providing financial support and are confident that the person you are assisting will be self-sufficient once living in the US, there is little to prevent you from completing and filing form I-864. If you need to talk through the application before its submission to USCIS, speak to an immigration solicitors who will be glad to assist you.

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